Monthly Archives: June 2015

The People

What an incredible trip this has been. I’m sorry that I haven’t kept up with the blog, but I lost two entire posts early into the ride and had a difficult time posting since, and been very busy riding, to tell the truth. We just passed 10,000 kms riding and camping around Western Europe

The people that we have come across these past 35 days have made the entire journey so memorable. The past two days we have visited WW2 cemeteries in Belgium and the Netherlands. Today we met a man that was 6 when the Allied forces liberated his town. He still had vivid memories of that time that he wished to share them with us. Another young man of maybe 22 was there with his friend placing flowers on a solders grave. We asked him if he knew this person and he told us ‘No. He had just adopted this solder, after waiting 11 years on a waiting list’.

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I will write about these two men in more detail in later blogs.

For now, I must go sleep in my tent and listen to the cows.

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Cheers

Greg “WANDRR” and Melanie

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Castles and Churches

We stopped in the small town of Füssen for the night at a small zimmer. The elderly lady who showed us our room held onto everything she could reach to stay herself. She spoke no English so all communication beside my rough high school German was in hand signals. We got along just fine. Füssen is also known for Neuschwanstein castle which inspired Walt Disney with Snow White’s castle.

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Leaving Füssen in the morning we were headed to the towns of Oberammergau and Mittenwald.
Oberammergau in known for its woodcarvings and once every 10 year Passion Play. Back in 1633, in the midst of the bloody Thirty Years’ War and with horrifying plagues devastating entire cities, the people of Oberammergau promised God that if they were spared from extinction, they’d “perform a play depicting the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every decade thereafter.

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Wanting to tour a castle we decided on a stop at Linderhof castle. For a fee of about €9.50 we walked around the grounds, toured the castle and grotto. Pictures were not allowed inside the castle but we took a couple of the outside grounds and the man-made grotto that crazy Kung Ludwig had built for him. Linderhof is Baroque and Rococo, the frilly, overly ornamented styles more associated with Louis XIV, the “Sun King”of France. Here you’ll see fleur-de-lis (the symbol of French royalty) and multiple portraits of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Madame Pompadour, and other pre-Revolutionary French elites. Though they lived a century apart, Ludwig and Louis were spiritual contemporaries: Both clung to the notion of absolute monarchy, despite the realities of the changing world around them.

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Stopping in Mittenwald for lunch we sat at a small table on the street watching bike after bike come off the pass that we were going to ride after we finished eating.

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Looping around from Mittenwald we came across a couple of clear blueish green, glacier looking water. The second one had a campground on the shore too tempting for us to pass by.

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As we pulled into our site a guy from Germany came right over with a couple of beers to start off the night. He and some of his family were at the lake fishing for a few days. Unfortunately, the night turned rainy and we went to the restaurants enclosed area for a pizza and to play some cards.

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Of course it rained all night and into the morning, being spring in Germany.
We packed up wet and rode west all day in the rain looking at the Bavarian countryside and stopped for the night at a little zimmer outside of Berchtesgaden where we dried out our soaked gear and had a great meal. In the morning, with some rain, we rode to the Eagles Nest, were Hitler ran operations from his summer place. It was still raining so we continued on.

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We headed into and out of Salzburg, it was a big city and too busy for us too look around. On our route south the rains stopped by the time we got to the UNESCO city of Hallstatt.DSCF1138

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This little town was a huge salt mining operation and its main interest is now tourism. The view of the town from the road running along the lake were just fantastic. I hope this shows some of the beauty.

Leaving Hallstatt we got lost again and ended up at a zimmer (B and B),  next to a 400 year old restaurant on a lake. The setting of the small town on the river was one of the most peaceful things I have ever seen.

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The next morning we crossed the Großglockner pass which was just incredible. This road and pass is a National Park which costs $26 to cross it, but it is definitely worth it. The road twists and turns to the snow-covered pass at 3105 meters. At the pass is a very nice view point with view and explanations of the glacier.

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...Beautiful valley in Austria

…Beautiful valley in Austria

Coming back down the pass we came to a little valley that was just breathtaking. A little campground on the side of the road at a farm was waiting for us with views to die for.

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As we were setting up camp we heard the bells of the cows coming to the barn, from the pastures, to be milked. The camp was full of Dutch there on holiday and they invited us to the campfire for drinks. Between the accordion, beer and the firedances, we had a great time.

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...Night comes to the valley, and the cold.

…Night comes to the valley, and the cold.

I ended up in the hut having tastes of the owners schnapps and a homemade liquor with a 45% alcohol content. He said “a couple of these and you will sleep all night”.

...Cold Melanie

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…Cold Melanie

He was right.

Cheers

Greg “WANDRR” and Melanie

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Germany

We were at LAX waiting for our plane but who does Melanie stop but Len Goodman from Dancing With the Stars. After a quick hello and a picture we were all off toward our gates.

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We flew on the Russian airline, Aeroflot, and had a wonderful flight over which included two meals, Salmon first and lamb second, free wine and great flight attendants.

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We had left for LAX at 0900hrs and arrived into Frankfort at 1800hrs the following day. Our pickup had us in Heidelberg by midnight at Stefan Knopf’s motorcycle compound.

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A good night sleep and German breakfast of hard rolls, meats, cheese, fresh butter and jelly, and cappachino started the day right.

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Spending a couple hours in the morning working on the Triumph Trophy 1200 and a test ride rounded out our first day in town. The bike was running rich and the carbs needed adjustment unfortunately but had to be good enough since the wrench in town was booked.

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Being super excited, the next morning we packed, ate and rode of with our first stop being the walled city of Rothenburg. In the Middle Ages, when Berlin and Munich were just wide spots on the road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was a “free imperial city” beholden only to the Holy Roman Emperor. During Rothenburg’s heyday, from 1150 to 1400, it was a strategic stop on the trade routes between northern and southern Europe. The day we were there a festival was going on.

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After exploring the walled city we rode toward the WW2 Nazi concentration camp of Dachau. Stepping through the gates brought an eerie feeling similar to being in Gettysburg.

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As we were leaving Dachau a group of car buffs from Croatia greeted us at the bike. The wanted pictures of us, from the US, with them and the bike. We each couldn’t speaks the others language but we had a good tim

The next day we rode into Munich to see the famous Glockenspiel and the Hofbrauhaus. It was Sunday so we thought there would be less traffic. WRONG! The Munich football (soccer) team had just won the national championship game and the party was that day with about 100,000 people coming. And party central was the square in front of the glockenspiel.

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Headed to the Bavarian castles next and we came upon this church in Weis and Andechs Monastery. The monks at this monastery are said to make the best beer in Germany. I guess I’ll have to try a sample.
Of Wieskirche. This pilgrimage church is built around the much-venerated statue of a scourged (or whipped) Christ, which supposedly wept in 1738. The carving—too graphic to be accepted by that generation’s Church—was the focus of worship in a peasant’s barn. Miraculously, it shed tears—empathizing with all those who suffer. Pilgrims came from all around. Follow the theological sweep from the altar to the ceiling: Jesus whipped, chained, and then killed (notice the pelican above the altar—recalling a pre-Christian story of a bird that opened its breast to feed its young with its own blood); the painting of Baby Jesus posed as if on the cross; the golden sacrificial lamb; and finally, high on the ceiling, the resurrected Christ before the Last Judgment. This is the most positive depiction of the Last Judgment around. Jesus, rather than sitting on the throne to judge, rides high on a rainbow—a symbol of forgiveness—giving any sinner the feeling that there is still time to repent, with plenty of mercy on hand. In the back, above the pipe organ, notice the closed door to paradise, and at the opposite end (above the main altar), the empty throne—waiting for Judgment Day.

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Sorry for all the pictures.

Cheers for now.

Greg “WANDRR” and Melanie

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